The most famous tree in golf is gone and Ike finally got his wish. This past weekend, the Eisenhower Tree – named in honor of President Dwight Eisenhower – had to be removed from the 17th hole at August National Golf Club after it suffered severe damage in a recent ice storm. The tree has played a noticeable role in many Master Tournaments, though the President Eisenhower had famously asked for its removable and was turned down by the club leadership.
“The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept,” club chairman Billy Payne said in a prepared statement. “We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible. We have begun deliberations of the best way to address the future of the 17th hole and pay tribute to this iconic symbol of our history — rest assured, we will do both appropriately.”
The Eisenhower Tree was believed to have been between 100 to 125 years old and was located about 210 yards from the Masters tee in the left center of the fairway. The Loblolly Pine stood about 65 feet tall.
The tree was name after President Eisenhower because the former president and Augusta National member was known to hit his tee shots at the tree, and at a club meeting in 1956 he proposed cutting it down. Masters co-founder Clifford Roberts ruled him out of order and adjourned the meeting, and the tree has been linked to Eisenhower ever since.
Sleet and freezing rain pummeled the Augusta area and much of Georgia Tuesday night and through Wednesday. Nearly an inch of accumulated ice was recorded. Photos of Magnolia Lane show limbs and branches strewn down the road.
Six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus issued a statement Sunday about the loss of the tree.
“The Eisenhower Tree is such an iconic fixture and symbol of tradition at Augusta National,” he said. “It was such an integral part of the game and one that will be sorely missed.”
“Over the years, it’s come into play many, many times on the 17th hole. When I stood on the 17th tee, my first thought, always, was to stay away from Ike’s Tree. Period. … I hit it so many times over the years that I don’t care to comment on the names I called myself and the names I might have called the tree. Ike’s Tree was a kind choice. But looking back, Ike’s Tree will be greatly missed.”
Other than Ike’s Tree, Payne said that Augusta National did not receive much major damage and is now open for member play. The club is set to hold the year’s first major championship on April 10th – the 2014 Masters Tournament.